Every conversation begins with “hello.”
And Heidi Maddrell, the director of the Port Moody Foundation, hopes at least some of those conversations become substantive discussions about the type of community Port Moody wants to be.
That’s the premise behind Say “Hello” PoMo, the foundation’s third annual community campaign to connect its residents, leaders and businesses with one another.
The event launches April 16 at 6 p.m. with PoMo Talks, a discussion forum on the future of the city, to be held at the Inlet Theatre. Over the course of the following two weeks, through April 30, the foundation will host a series of other events, like a doggy meet-up at Bert Flinn Park, to foster connections and spark conversations.
This year’s theme is growth and sustainable community.
Maddrell said it’s a topic that’s at the core of every debate and discussion surrounding new developments proposed for Port Moody and the impacts they’ll have on traffic, quality of life and the city’s small-town vibe.
But Maddrell hopes these discussions will transcend the political context of Port Moody’s growth.
“We are about the people,” she said. “Cities evolve and change but we want to concentrate on the social impact of growth.”
Those impacts can be felt in services such as fire and police protection, the ability of seniors to stay and thrive in their community, the stresses on health care and affordability, and the opportunities created for business.
Finding common ground to all those aspects of community life is key to creating a healthy, sustainable community, Maddrell said.
“We have to look at a framework of values we have for our community,” she said. “Once we determine what’s important, we can move forward.”
To foster discussion, the foundation has cultivated a series of Facebook groups for specific neighbourhoods in Port Moody, the city’s food culture and even its dogs. Maddrell said many of those have taken on a life of their own, connecting longtime residents and welcoming newcomers.
And as the city grows, the importance of those connections increases.
“Everybody thinks Port Moody is doing fine,” Maddrell said. “We need a well-run city physically, but we also need a city with a strong social infrastructure.”
Only when that’s achieved, Maddrell said, she’ll be able to move on to other challenges.
“Our goal is to get to the point we’re not needed anymore,” she said of the PoMo Foundation. “We hope then everyone in Port Moody cares for each other.”
• To find out more about Say “Hello” PoMo and the Port Moody Foundation, go to www.portmoodyfoundation.ca.